The Bridge by Iain Banks : A Book Review

TheBridgeWhile I was burying myself in this book, I was vacillating anywhere between 4 and 3 STARS. Every chapter left me to twist in the wind.


Iain Banks is immortal for how he begins his novel just the like of his famous one, THE CROW ROAD. In THE BRIDGE, I liked its opening, describing the bridge with beautiful sentences- something savory, something musical to my ears when I read it aloud, something that is imagined in awe.

“The road cleared the cutting through the hills. He could see South Queensferry, the marina at Port Edgar, the VAT 69 sign of the distillery there, the lights of Hewlett Packard’s factory; and the rail bridge, dark in the evening’s last sky-reflected light. Behind it, more lights; the Hound Point oil terminal they’d had a sub-contract on, and, further away, the lights of Leith. The old rail bridge’s hollow metal bones looked the color of dried blood.”

Notably, with the background in psychology, I enjoyed keeping up with the characters –from John Orr, one of the protagonists to the dour shrinker, along with his two delusional patients. Although feeling a tingle of scare, I absorbed myself in it more; I could not put it down-I just read and read.

Another thing that spiced up my interest is the psychological tests, which were given to the protagonist, I had been preoccupied with. I could not analyze what the relevance of those tests.

Besides, an ignorant atheist may raise a question if NDE (Near-Death-Experience) has something to do with afterlife. But, for sure, a deep-rooted believer might insist so.


Fiddlesticks! I enjoyed the beginning a lot until I reached the part incited me to get annoyed because I could not make out the Scottish accent rendered in phonetic words. I was interested at first, but it took me a lot of effort to decipher the dialogues among the camouflaged entities until I gave up because the story seems to be different since I had been preoccupied with the first story- as though I moved to another dimension in a comatose state I was not familiar with. So I was just trying to be more patient because I knew it was Banks ‘intention.

I found transisting to another dimension more interesting. There was something new. And at this time, I liked Iain Banks more. I can now recognize his styles for writing; he is like a raconteur. There is something about his styles that I tend to read smoothly, calmly despite the fact that his book is steeped in violent and hostile situations. He gave me an inspiration how to be a writer.

I said it! I had expected to pass this nose-bleeding part. I wanted to get furious, with the tears welling up in my eyes. I felt like spitting on Banks- he should not have written such parts. So I just skipped it since I could not figure out the phonetics even though speaking with Scottish accent sounds interesting, but not like this- somewhat stuffy. I had almost been attached to the real story as though I did not like to separate myself from the protagonist. Uh-oh! I was disappointed. So, I was sick and tired of the same situation as though I wanted to get out of that wacky world. I could not wait for what would become of John Orr. But still, I was trying to hang in there.

At last, I appreciated this book a whole lot. I had gone out of that quizzical and mind-boggling world. I had patched every story together. I had understood why everything had been going all along. I could not believe my eyes that I had felt those feelings. I had been carried away by Iain Banks. I was speechless at the end of the story, with some questions niggling in the chambers of my mind. It iss a big WOW! If I did not have too many books on my list to read, I could re-read it beyond the shadow of doubt.

To understand the real concept of the book, I browsed through the Wikipedia. Eventually, I realized that the story centers around the three protagonists: Alex (full name hinted to be Alexander Lennox, but never explicitly named), John Orr and The Barbarian, the character in the “epistaxis “ parts.

Iain Banks thought that of the novels he had written, this is his personal favorite.
“Definitely the intellectual of the family, it’s the one that went away to University and got a first. I think The Bridge is the best of my books.”

No doubt! I have not been able to get over this book yet. I have still been trying to digest and assimilate all the stories. Like the brain-teasing psychological tests given, it is like a whodunit novel. I have still big WHYs?

Rating: 5/ 5 stars ( It is amazing. )


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